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Everything posted by Andrew

  1. Hearkening back to our earlier discussion of transgender women directors, I can't recommend the French documentary Little Girl highly enough. It's the best and most empathic consideration of gender dysphoria that I've seen on film, period. Here's my full review: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularcinephile/2020/10/diy-virtual-film-fest-part-7-little-girl/
  2. Yes to all of the above...Swafford goes into the most detail by far on the Eroica. (Thus far, anyway: I suspect the 7th and 9th will get similar treatment.) On a peripheral note, I'm loving all of the Harnoncourt recordings I've listened to so far...except for the Violin Concerto. What were Harnoncourt and Kremer thinking, in adding a piano part to the cadenzas (cadenzi?)? They took me wholly out of the piece - I wondered if it was a glitch in the CD at first - and feel unfaithful to its spirit.
  3. Heh, I felt that way at the only Bruckner symphony I've heard live... But to your actual question, it is interesting to read about first audiences' and critics' reactions to works that we now consider canonical. Having just finished the section in Swafford's book on Beethoven's 3rd, turnaround was actually surprisingly quick, only about 5-7 years from bewilderment to recognition of its path-forging greatness. I haven't gotten to this section yet, but IIRC, his 5th and 6th Symphonies and 4th Piano Concerto all premiered at the same concert - if I had a music time machine, that evening wo
  4. Has anyone else seen this? It's a worthy successor to Stop Making Sense (in our Top 100), with David Byrne back on stage and captured by an expert director (Spike Lee this time). The choreography again is expert, the music making superb, by his 11-person backup band (7 percussionists!). The two negative reviews at RT (including dear old Armond White at the National Review) critique it for political preachiness. I thought it succeeded in blending the timely with the timeless, and in the Q&A for the NYFF (on YouTube), Byrne speaks persuasively to the artist's duty to comment on the m
  5. So, this conversation inspired me: I sprang for the complete collection of Harnoncourt's orchestral recordings, and I'm 350 pages into Swafford's bio of LvB - listening to his orchestral pieces sequentially as they come up in the biography. This has been a fun way to (almost) make his pieces new, to read Swafford's commentary on LvB's excessive use of tutti in Symphony 1, hear the Mozartian elements of Symphony 2, and pick out where Beethoven stole from his earlier Creatures of Prometheus ballet for the finale of the Eroica. Fun stuff! And if I ever knew it, I'd forgotten that the infamous
  6. Andrew

    Night of the Kings

    So, wow. This film from the Ivory Coast (co-produced there, Senegal, France, and Canada) is astonishing. It's the 5th feature by director Philippe Lacote, but the first to cross my radar. And it won the "Amplify Voices Award" at TIFF this year, whatever that means. But, please, more people from A&F need to watch this, so we can talk about it. Easily one of my favorites from 2020, only an ending that feels anemic compared to everything else that came before keeps me from giving this 5 out of 5 stars. But it's transporting in a way that the best cinema from far-flung parts of the w
  7. Thanks for the info and the link - I'll keep an eye out for their program.
  8. Andrew

    Selma (2014)

    Those wanting a longer look at MLK's life story will dig Sam Pollard's latest documentary, MLK/FBI. Though mine would be a dissenting voice in these environs, I think it's a stronger film than Selma. Here's my full review: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularcinephile/2020/09/diy-virtual-film-fest-part-2-mlk-fbi/
  9. Happy to report my DIY film fest started strongly, with a barnyard drama that brought Dreyer to mind: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularcinephile/2020/09/diy-virtual-film-fest-part-1-the-human-voice-and-gunda/
  10. I really wish I shared your optimism. But my trip last weekend to a blue state with fairly reasonable mask policies in place still showed a lot of folks not wearing masks when, how, and where they're supposed to, nor practicing social distancing. Happily, it seems that most festivals in the second half of 2020 are showing 90% of the same films, so between a few NYFF rentals and a membership/pass to Chicago, I'll be able to watch nearly everything I would've seen in Toronto. And both are reasonably priced: Chicago cost me less per film than two tickets for a pre-pandemic movie outing.
  11. Andrew


    As I recall, Wilkinson felt a couple of the scenes went too far in their sexualized dance moves. She may be right, though Jessica and I didn't think so. But the dishonesty of the social media backlash has been appalling - I haven't watched any of the clips Wilkinson and Romano mentioned, but I understand one of the most-viewed ones makes a scene where two of the girls eat gummi bears seem sexual, which it definitely is not within the film.
  12. Andrew


    Nicely done. I think you're right - film viewers do not like to be uncomfortable or deal with nuance, on the whole. Hopefully it won't happen to you, but probably best to brace yourself for a backlash; my write-up on Patheos is the first time I received a death threat for a review.
  13. Thanks - I'm probably more cautious than most, but I don't take much comfort in outdoor and drive-in venues. Both will no doubt have bottlenecks (entrances, restrooms, concessions) where the potential for COVID spread persists. Add this to the high prevalence of mask wearers who wear them down around their neck, below their nose, etc., and it's not as risky as a Trump rally, but it's still a risk I'm not ok taking.
  14. Alas, Festival 919 is going to be in-person this year. I understand that this is probably better for the bottom line, but my grave reservations about in-person festivals (even with outdoor and drive-in screenings) in the US remain mostly unchanged. So I've bought a handful of individual tix for NYFF already and will probably buy the virtual pass for Middleburg. Jessica and I are renting an airbnb for the 13th-19th of October, so Middleburg's timing is perfect for that.
  15. Andrew


    It's sad that the discussion of this film has centered around the social media outrage machine. There, that's out of the way. This is a very good film overall, especially considering it's a debut feature for both the director and lead actor. Between this film and Ladj Ly's Les Miserables, I hope these are signs we'll be hearing from more non-white voices in French cinema. This film explores so many boundary zones - between cultures, between religion and secularism, between girlhood and womanhood - and does so intelligently. Here's my full review: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/sec
  16. Andrew

    Feels Good Man

    The buzz around this one (79 at Metacritic) is accurate; this is an informative, entertaining documentary. Even more impressive, it's a directing debut; though I think it's no coincidence that the most veteran crew member was also the editor of Won't You Be My Neighbor? and Hail Satan?, two of my favorite docs of recent years. Feels Good Man has that same capacity to delight and surprise, with a comparable spirit of playful seriousness about it. Feels Good Man does a few things excellently: it's a profile of a counterculture cartoonist Matt Furie and his best-known creation, Pepe the Fr
  17. Yep, I've been inserting a 'where to watch' link at the end of all my reviews, since my last in-theater viewing in mid-March. Wow, that's astonishing (I would've thought people sheltering in place were more starved for artistic nourishment) and scary (for the folks running arthouse cinemas trying to stay financially afloat).
  18. Mainly, I've been using the websites of my two closest arthouse cinemas to stream new films. Occasionally, the film itself will have a website with a streaming option, so I've used that on occasion (most recently for Werner Herzog's latest, Nomad). Since I write two reviews per week on average, I scan pages like the NYT Movies section and Roger Ebert to stay current with new releases, without reading their reviews - if I can't find a streaming option on my own, the top or bottom of their reviews often includes info on how to stream the film in question.
  19. I know I've discovered that there are a boatload of independent or smaller-scale films - too many for my nearby arthouse cinemas to keep up with - that have kept me enjoying new films twice weekly. And even at that pace, I still have a page full of new films since March that I could turn to if the pipeline runs dry. I've got to think that smaller distributors are noticing this and will keep their use of streaming services ramped up. I would not be surprised to see more films skipping theaters altogether, even when it's safe to return to them.
  20. Thanks, Michael. I definitely feel the same pain: I miss the 2-3 times per month treks to Asheville for a movie and yummy meal with my wife; and in a normal year, we'd be departing for the Toronto Film Fest in 9 days (first year we're missing it since 2014 or 2015). And the ICU nurse is spot on: recent studies on the rates of cardiac disease with COVID are frankly scary and leave me wondering if a cardiac workup will become standard for all but the mildest cases. As a mental health professional, I'm seeing higher rates of depression and anxiety, too, as the pandemic continues largely u
  21. I'd like to hear you expand on this. Are you referring to the sense of struggle that is so tactile in Beethoven's works; or the range of emotion he so clearly expresses? Beethoven's 7th is one of the few pieces of which I have two recordings - one is Harnoncourt's, which I adore as well. And you're right; it's such a different, more rugged sound than what we're accustomed to hearing. And another plug for the Sticky Notes podcast; he did a recent episode on the Triple Concerto, which gave me permission to no longer apologize for loving it so much (and it was a hoot to hear how
  22. Thanks for this affecting post, Michael. It's interesting how we choose the pieces of art to comfort us at difficult times (or they choose us); when I went through my divorce, sometimes Truffaut's 400 Blows was the only thing that would settle my mind to go to sleep, while Peter Gabriel's music helped me through the aftermath. But back to Beethoven...he was also my main gateway drug to the world of classical music. As a teen, I can remember classical music as family background noise (my dad is a Beethoven and Mozart devotee, and in his retirement he balances the books for a respected ch
  23. Andrew


    Though he turns 78 next week, Herzog continues to crank out 1-2 high quality films yearly. I rather liked Family Romance LLC, which dropped on streaming services in July. Nomad, which is now dropping, is my favorite film of his since Cave of Forgotten Dreams, and my first 5-star film of the year. It's a good and gentle film, and Lord knows we can use some goodness and kindness right about now. In his portrait of friend and kindred spirit Bruce Chatwin, a novelist and travel writer I'd not heard of before, we see more of Herzog than we typically do. The film is also something of a summ
  24. Here's what I wrote on Saturday as the issue as it stands in the US: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularcinephile/2020/08/please-resist-the-temptation-of-open-cinemas-and-the-lure-of-tenet-us-moviegoing-is-still-unsafe/
  25. That's some helpful perspective; I appreciate it. My response is definitely colored by the years I worked with combat veterans, and repeatedly hearing how they were triggered by watching graphic war films.
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